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Wolves Fans' Verdict v Fulham: We were poor

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published: | Last Updated:

Our fans analyse a disappointing evening after Wolves lose at Fulham.

Clockwise from top left; Russ Cockburn, Russ Evers, Adam Virgo, Heather Large, Chris Hughes, Natalie Wood, Clive Smith and Rob Cartwright

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match? Fulham produced the best football from an opponent this season; with their recent form and the excellent home record this was likely to be our toughest game of the entire run in.

Unfortunately, we were not firing on all cylinders, once more. We also missed Neves massively, but we knew he would be a big loss.

Fulham took the game to us, but there wasn’t that much in it until they scored.

They were more dominant all over the pitch, but there had been little real danger.

The greatest frustration is that Wolves' play has become slow at best and lethargic at worst. When in possession we moved the ball around far too slowly, enabling Fulham to get into position to defend. When they had the ball, we were slow to get tackles in, especially in the non danger zones. This leads to extra pressure on our defence and free kicks conceded around our box.

The goal was handed on a plate. It was a poor header from N’Diaye to give possession away, but player after player backed off to allow the initial shot, for which Coady reacted slowly and should have got in a challenge. No one was tracking Sessegnon (who is as good as the press tell us). Very poor goal to concede.

We were a little better in the second half, but didn’t really show the passion required to get back into the game until we were 2-0 down, with 20 minutes to go.

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We did create more goal chances without anything being clear- cut. Nuno made his substitutions without any of them really making an impact. Even pushing Coady into midfield towards the end made little difference. In fact, he can be faulted for their second goal too.

When Jota shot over an almost empty goal, we knew our fate was sealed. Those have been bread and butter for him, all season.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

Too many Wolves players had an off day together. I’d send them to Marbella for another week!

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We needed a big performance from Saiss, in for Neves, but he didn’t step up. With N’Diaye also below par, we virtually gave the midfield to Fulham to run all match.

Coady was at fault for both goals, though otherwise played well. Boly started well but got pulled out of position far too often.

Cavaleiro was our most dangerous player, but was also guilty of not chasing for the ball and I felt he was giving up far too easily. That’s a mindset issue.

Bonatini and Afobe suffered from poor service. Gibbs-White was anonymous for 30 minutes.

My man of the match is Cavaleiro on 6/10 – about sums up this performance!

I hope Fulham do go up. Craven Cottage is a fantastic stadium to visit where you can mix and enjoy the company of the opposing supporters, making it a great day out.

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match? It is not the first time we have come up against a team in form. It is the first time though that we have looked second best in so many departments. After a fairly even opening 30 minutes we were outplayed by a Fulham side that looked a lot like the Wolves side of October and November.

A focal point in attack, plenty of movement in the final third with players overlapping down the wings, a midfield forcing errors and winning the ball back cheaply. That was what we were up against yesterday.

We started off okay with some forward moves involving Costa but they fizzled out without the keeper being tested.

Like most teams now Fulham employed a high press and were successful is stopping our slow patient build-up play. That led us to try and play longer balls through the channels - these were dealt with easily - meaning our goal threats were kept to a minimum.

We were physically second best, were often unconvincing in possession, leaving Fulham to dictate the tempo and direction of play.

When we did venture forward we were careless with the ball meaning we just never got into their box.

A typical Fulham move led to a shot on goal that Ruddy could only parry back into play for a close range tap in. Bennett should have done better, initially with his clearance, and then reacting to the rebound. Wolves did well then to prevent a second before the interval. We were having to work hard in our own third to break up their confident attacking play.

Nothing much changed in the second half. We continued to look second best where it really mattered - in and around their box.

Had Doherty stayed onside and made connection with a diving header it would have been one for the scrapbook. Unfortunately it was just an 'if only' moment. Much like a lot of our attempts in the match.

We made two changes but that did not turn the game out way. Not long after it was 2-0 and we never looked like pulling that back.

Our results have not been what we had hoped for this week. Those chasing still have some catching up to do however. Morale needs to stay high and some energy levels need restoring. We have plenty of games left to secure the points we need to win the league.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Ruddy still seemed to have the baggage from Norwich. He looked more nervy than usual. For the opening goal, on another day his save would have fallen to a Wolves player and the danger cleared.

Doherty and Douglas both had a hard day at the office. Caught between trying to get forward to help the attack, trying to help in midfield while also defending. They were spread too thinly and struggled.

Boly, Bennett and Coady had to be on full alert at all times. Against good hold up play and fast runners they found it hard.

There were poor clearances from both Bennett and Coady. Boly was the pick of the three and was our best player. Often looking rushed he still managed to get to the ball first and tried to drive us forward. Coady played in midfield for the closing minutes.

Saiss looked well off the pace and chased shadows at times. He had been showing his best form before missing the last few games.

N'Diaye was up for the challenge and worked well in midfield while also providing much needed support to the attack. Again, I was surprised to see him withdrawn so early, after an hour.

Costa started well but the end product disappointed. Three or four times during the game he had the ball at the edge of the box, only for the chance to be wasted. Teams have learned that vigorous challenges can take him out the game easily.

Bonatini may have been rested recently but that has failed to help him regain his early season form. Some neat link up play was all he had to offer, while at the other end of the pitch we saw a strong dominant forward giving defenders a torrid time.

Cavaleiro again looked the most lively in attack. Too often he either failed to keep the ball close to him or he needed too many touches. He did manage to get off a couple of decent shots though, which was more than most, although Fulham were too sharp to allow him much time on the ball.

From the bench Gibbs-White tried to stem the tide in midfield without much success.

Jota had our best chance of the match. After Afobe played him in, he missed the target from close range. Very similar to the goal-line miss he had at Barnsley.

Afobe created that chance after chasing a Coady through ball. He looked favourite to score but his effort was blocked and it was from the rebound he set Jota up.

Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match? Life without Ruben Neves...and the near 5,000 travelling supporters had an inkling of what was coming when Diogo Jota’s name was also missing from the team sheet.

Add in lacklustre performances throughout – none more so than from Bonatini and Costa – and an utterly freezing early evening and the scene was set for a performance that was as flat as anything I can recall from Nuno’s men this season.

But now is not the time to panic. Calm heads and home victories should see us over the line – we just need to do what we have done since August and believe.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match? A really worrying display, probably one of the first games this season I went into not really thinking we would get anything out of it. There has been a steady decline in our performances over the past few weeks so this was inevitable.

Fulham are a great side but we didn’t even attempt to give them a game. I know which team I would have thought were top of the league.

The missing Neves factor was definitely an issue for us – without him we had no control of the midfield. Neither Saiss or N’Diaye could hold the midfield and pretty much every time the ball went into that area we lost it easily.

We were trying to play with flair and style throughout but it isn’t what we needed to do. We were constantly trying to showboat, messing around with the ball in our own half leading to us losing it continually and on the odd occasion we got towards goal we were just trying to walk it in.

Bonatini was poor and really struggled to get into the game. Cavaleiro and Costa were probably the only two players that tried to create something but again they were both just trying too hard.

I really don’t want to sound like a cynical fan but we have to be honest here, our performances recently haven’t been great even though the results have gone our way.

We may still be a fair bit ahead of third however we are also only a couple more bad results away from completely messing it up. Based on yesterday’s performance the latter option seems more likely.

We no longer need Aston Villa to mind the gap, we need to seriously start watching it. We are a great team with amazing players that should and hopefully will still easily get promoted but the warning signs are there!

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Defensively we were poor, the structure wasn’t there and Bennett and Douglas especially struggled. We left Sessegnon open at the back post multiple times which was always going to cause us trouble.

Ruddy lacked confidence and really struggled to control his box...the man just needs to catch the ball every now and again!

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? Arguably one of our poorest performances of the season. Only about three players even looked decent and interested whilst Cavaleiro was the only player who actually looked threatening. Fulham were much the better side but from our point of view, it was nowhere near the high standards we’ve set for most of this season.

I still feel as though the Norwich draw was more frustrating because of how close we were to winning whereas yesterday we weren’t even close to getting a draw, never mind anything more.

Neves was a huge miss in the middle. Whenever our defence has the ball, they’re able to give it to Neves and then we move on from there. Without him we looked like a completely different side and it was forcing us to play it around the back a lot more than normal which caused mistakes to happen. You don’t really know what you miss until it’s gone and I’m sure every Wolves fan can’t wait to see him back already.

Both goals were avoidable. Bennett’s poor pass and then Coady got beat by Mitrovic too easily cost us massively for the first goal. The second, Mitrovic once again, was able to get past a few players and get his shot off. Ruddy shouldn’t have been beat at his near post so easily but no way should he have even been allowed to turn and shoot like he did.

I’m still confident of the title and promotion because we’ve got quite a few very winnable games left and when we have Neves playing there’s so much more control. The game against Reading next week will be huge as we need to win that.

We’ve seemed to struggle in the second half for the past four games now, we started it quite well yesterday but after the 50th minute it just went completely flat for us.

We did have some moments where we could have done better, a lot of them through Costa in the first half but the less said about that the better. No idea how Jota missed that chance late on, if any moment could sum up the whole game then it would be that one. Probably wouldn’t have changed much but if he had scored, it would have made for an interesting last 5-10 minutes.

Just remember, form is temporary and class is permanent. We’re first in this league for a good reason, we’ve been the best team so far as the league table says. Yes the last few games we haven’t been anywhere near our best but we’re the only ones who can change that.

I think we do need to regroup and go back to basics a bit. Maybe we’ve gotten a bit carried away mentally by being so far ahead and with how good we’ve been playing at times. Now is the time to focus again, even if we pick up 1-0 win next week, we just need something to get us back on track and I’m sure come May we’ll be lifting the Championship trophy.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Cavaleiro was the only player who looked like making something happen from an attacking sense. Everyone else was completely off the pace and I felt a bit sorry for him because he couldn’t just do it all on his own.

Time and time again he’d beat a man, maybe even two or three, give it to someone and then they’d end up losing it. All of his work was basically for nothing and I’m sure he was very frustrated in the end. It’s been a similar case for the past few games though, Cavaleiro has been the only one who’s looked threatening.

N’Diaye didn’t do too bad either I thought. Him going off for Gibbs-White gave us less of a presence and we struggled to cope even more. Big Alf wasn’t at his best by all means but I would have taken Saiss off instead at that point if anything.

I know Coady was at fault for parts of both Fulham goals but he did actually look bothered and I don’t think his overall performance was that bad. Obviously nowhere near his best but he saved us big time early on with another goal line clearance. He made some important blocks whilst it was still 0-0 and he did more in central midfield for the 15 minutes he was there than Saiss did for his 77.

Boly had a weird game because defensively he made some brilliant tackles but when he was on the ball he just seemed far too calm and arrogant which cost us possession a lot.

With the way Fulham pressed us as well and without Neves we couldn’t really afford to do that type of stuff. Whenever Saiss/N’Diaye received the ball under pressure which was more than they normally would than if partnered with Neves, they lost it. Boly is very hesitant sometimes on the ball and he doesn’t like going long too much so he’d always go short to the midfield and he also constantly kept giving the ball to Douglas whilst he was under pressure causing us to make mistakes.

Saiss hasn’t been great for a while and even on Tuesday when he came on he was poor. He was so frustrating to watch yesterday and his pot shot from 30 yards which hit the back the away stand summed up his whole performance.

Bonatini just doesn’t look on it at all. Not scored since Blues away and his all round performance yesterday was awful. He barely got involved, was second to a lot of balls and I’m starting to think that when he was firing regularly for us it was probably just a confidence thing.

Based on what I’ve seen from him this whole season, I wouldn’t sign him if we go up, he would struggle against premier league defenders and that’s just the honest truth. Don’t get me wrong he’s scored some important goals for us but for where we actually want to be, we can do much better.

Everyone else was poor, I won’t be surprised if a few changes are made for the game against Reading next week because we’ve got a good squad of players. I’m not saying make drastic changes but after last night especially, I could definitely see 3/4 changes which wouldn’t hurt too much.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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